Looking for a new minimal shoe

Published by Ronald on Thursday, 12 May 2011 15:55 EDT


I’m currently running on my pretty awesome Adizero Rockets. They are great shoes but not zero drop or minimal. Heel to toe drop is still 6 mm and they provide some support. Don’t get me wrong I love my adizeros and will keep running on them. I just really want and need a proper minimal shoe in my collection.

I’ve been looking online for possible shoes to get that are zero drop and have no or very minimal support. It was a surprisingly long list I had to work through to find my seemingly perfect shoe. I chose to exclusively use online reviews to do my research.

None of these shoes seem to be available in the Netherlands so I always have to order them blindly off the internet and have to guess the correct size. Luckily there was a barefoot race recently in the Netherlands where I at got to try on the Merrell Trail Glove and the Terra Plana Evo.

I need to take into account I have a high arch and wide feet. My current Adizero shoes are pretty tight and barely allow any toe splay. Of course the adizero isn’t really made for that, but it would have been nice if they had allowed for some toe splay. I am purposely looking for a shoe that’s not like my current Adizero but is zero drop and preferably without any padding at all. The sole has to be really flexible as well. I will be running on the road mostly so I don’t really need very grippy shoes.

I thought I would share my impressions of all the shoes I’ve looked at and why I might or might not get them.

  • Altra adam,
  • Inov-8 f-lite
  • Merrell Trial Glove
  • Terra plana Neo and Evo
  • New Balance Minimus Trail
  • Invisible Shoes
  • Vibram bikila with laces

Altra adam

Altra adam barefoot shoes

The Altra adam seems to be the perfect candidate. It’s zero drop and has a completely flexible sole. More importantly, it’s still a shoe. I would love to get my hands on these since they seem so perfect for me. Altra has been smart and added removable insoles so the less experienced like me can use them and allows people to take the insole out for the true zero-drop feel.

I would love to get these but they are expensive and I need to buy them blind. No shop near me carries them or has even heard of Altra running, which is normal with minimal shoes. There’s another thing that’s holding me back though, they used Velcro straps and I just don’t like Velcro straps. They look silly and they never seem to fit right on me since I have an odd high arch. That’s why I much prefer laces.

The good news is that they will release a laced version called “The Samson” in summer of 2011 and I will keep my eyes on those. They seem to actaully be the perfect shoe for me. Hopefully they will use a different color scheme then just grey though.

NOTE: it seems the Altra Adam has been delayed till the late summer 2011. The Samson might be delayed as well

Reviews used: minimalistrunningshoes.org and toesalad.com

Merrell Trail glove

funky orange Merrell Trail Glove

The Merrell trail glove seems to be one of the best shoes I looked in to. Derek has these and he has done a quick review here. He’s pretty happy with them and I would probably be as well. My only issue is that the Merrell’s have a pretty thick sole. There is no padding and they are very flexible but it does change the ground feel a bit.

I will probably buy the Merrell tough glove which you can see below for my everyday work shoe. That way I will walk zero drop everywhere I go and they look pretty awesome.

Cool shoe for at the office - Merrell Tough Glove

Reviews used: birthdayshoes.com, barefootrunninguniversity.com - merrell trail glove and barefootrunninguniversity.com merrell tough glove

Terra Plana Evo II

Terra Plana vivo barefoot Evo II

The terra plana is a funky, odd looking shoe. I tried them on at the barefoot race in Tilburg. They had a stand with all kinds of barefoot shoes so I got to try these on. They had a very good ground feel compared to what I’m used to and seemed a lot thinner then the Merrells.

I didn’t like how the shoes were made though. It has an odd plastic watershoe feeling at the top which I didn’t like. Besides that this shoe seems almost perfect for me. Which brings me to the next shoe...

Reviews used: barefootrunninguniversity.com and unfinishedman.com

Terra Plana Neo

Terra Plana vivo barefoot Neo - pictures taken from unfinishedman.com by chad

The Terra Plana Neo has the exact same sole as the Terra Plana Evo as far as I can see, but with a nicer fabric upper. The photos from the unfinishedman.com article really convinced me that I may want these shoes. They look very cool in that article while the stock photos from the Terra Plana website looked a bit odd. That's why I added this picture from the article made by Chad at unfinishedman.com and not the standard photos.

These are the shoes I want and are properly minimal with a sole thickness of 4mm. This is a real barefoot shoe that looks good and my favorite to buy for running.

Reviews used: unfinishedman.com

New Balance Minimus trial

New Balance minimus trial - pics from Bryan Powell

I like the orange color on these shoes and after reading the review from Bryon Powell at iRunFar.com I was pretty excited about it. There’s one problem though, I mentioned this before but I have an high arch and Runblogger explained how the black band constricts the forefoot a bit and I'm afraid the same will happen on my feet.

I have to buy these shoes blind without trying them on so this is a no go for me right now. However don’t let this stop you. They look excellent and there are many good reviews of this shoe out there. If you have the opportunity to try these on somewhere I definately would.

Reviews used: irunfar.com, runblogger.com first look at minimus trial and runblogger.com shoe surgery

Invisible Shoes

I already bought these but I haven’t made them yet, and I am a bit reluctant to do so. I believe all the talk that these are excellent running sandals, no doubt about that. But I really dislike sandals or having shoes with exposed toes. I rarely wear flip flops or regular sandals even when its scorching hot outside. I always got some kind of sneakers on that cover my feet and more specifically my toes. Even when I walk indoors I pretty much always have socks on.

I will eventually get over it though and I will make the huaraches since I have only heard good things about it. Derek also keeps reminding me that they are awesome… evil peer pressure. Also I apparently have “big ass feet” so I might need to be creative about how to tie them properly.

Reviews used: runningpoint.org - part 1 and part 2

Vibram bikila with laces

Vibram bikila LS

Technically, my toes would be covered in these shoes and they have laces but they don’t really appeal to me. At some point, however, I think my curiosity will get the better of me and I will order a pair somewhere when they are on sale just to see what all the fuss is about. But again, I have the preference to always wear socks and I would need to get expensive toe socks to wear in these or go in them with my bare foot.

I’m sure these are excellent and I have seen people run in them and they don’t look bad in real life. They look pretty cool.


I have skipped a few shoes like all the shoes from inov-8 because they weren’t minimal enough or just made for trail running. The F-Lite from inov-8 was a very good looking shoe, but not right for me. I felt they weren’t minimal enough and were very similar to my current Adizero shoes. Their X-Talon model is really made for just trails and not for any roads and are sadly useless for me. I might think about using one of the inov-8 shoes to replace my Adizero though.

I probably missed some manufacturers making this list and feel free to suggest other shoes not shown here.


I am heavily torn between the  Merrell Trail Gloves and the Terra Plana Neo. They both look cool and are pretty much what I want. I will get the Merrell Tough Glove (the leather one) for sure as a normal working shoe so I can let my feet really get used to walking zero-drop, but I still need a shoe to run in.

The Terra Plana Neo also seems a bit more minimal then the Merrell Trail Glove with its thinner sole and is my current preferred shoe to get for running.

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